The Weather Machine
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The Weather Machine

Portland, Oregon, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2014 | SELF

Portland, Oregon, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2014
Band Alternative Indie

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"Music Monday! Fen Wik Ren, the Rivera, the Weather Machine, Big Black Cloud, the Memories, Old Light"

...Played by bassist Jack Martin, guitarist Colin Robson, drummer Corey Kintzi, and singer/guitarist Slater Smith, the perceptive folk-pop on their self-titled album is catchy, melancholy, slightly tarnished sunshine that begs repeat listens. The whole album is streaming on their site, but here's the shuffling, strolling "Little Surrender," an easygoing strummer in the vein of Ray Davies or Paul McCartney. - Portland Mercury


"Review: The Weather Machine - Self Titled Album"

New Portland band, The Weather Machine, has released a fantastic first self-titled album. Sisters native Slater Smith was instrumental in the group’s formation, and the result is a melodic album (evocative of Josh Ritter, The Tallest Man on Earth and Gregory Alan Isakov) anchored by Slater’s seductive vocals.

The 23 year-old vocalist left Willamette University last year with a degree in Political Science and soon had assembled a bevy of talented musicians: bassist and singer Jack Martin, percussionist Corey Kintizi and producer/musician Colin Robson with help from cellist Mathew Cartmill and Slater’s brother, drummer Tanner Smith.

Slater attributes his singing and songwriting abilities to the popular and award-winning Americana Project, “I wouldn’t be playing music if it wasn’t for the Americana Project,” he remarked. The highly successful program was developed to inspire the creativity of Sisters’ youth, and to demonstrate the cultural and historical significance of American roots music and cultural expression. Entering the program as a sophomore, he began playing the guitar and penning songs. Tanner also participated in the Americana Project and was heavily involved in the Sisters jazz program.

The Weather Machine is the first album produced in Robson’s Pacific City studio, Kiwanda Sound Recordings. Together with friend and partner Andrew Russell, the studio has succeeded in producing a polished and cohesive first production.
Many of the tracks can stand alone as strong representations of the group’s indie sound and song writing abilities, but listening to the album as a whole, the stories unfolds.

Three tracks, Act I – III are the strongest examples of Slater’s songwriting ability in a poetic story rooted deeply in the folk music tradition. Act I Skeleton Jack, Act II Chorus and Act III Alexei Mikhail is cautionary tale of sin, revenge and a grand bargain with the devil.

Nature and a sense of place are strong themes throughout the album and in some of my favorite tracks, Galaxies! and Over All the Land.

The Weather Machine has a number of shows scheduled in Portland over the next few months, and if we are lucky, they will return to Central Oregon again soon (their CD Release party was at The Belfry in Sisters).

by Renee Patrick - Cascade A&E


"Review: The Weather Machine - "Back O'er Oregon" (in Italian)"

Gli Weather Machine, una delle rivelazioni dell’anno nella scena del cantautorato folk americano, tornano a far parlare di sé dopo la realizzazione del loro album omonimo nella primavera di quest’anno.
L’etichetta di Portland Tender Loving Empire (tra le cui fila hanno militato gruppi come Loch Lomond e Small Sur) pubblica infatti oggi il nuovo singolo del gruppo guidato da Slater Smith, “Back O’er Oregon”, che presenta come b-side una nuova versione di “Slow Dance Slow” (inclusa originariamente nel disco d’esordio della band, “Mr. Pelton’s Weather Machine”).
In occasione di questa nuova uscita, gli Weather Machine ci presentano in anteprima il video di “Back O’er Oregon”, realizzato quest’estate da Slater Smith con una semplice videocamera GoPro e un’idea ben precisa in testa: attraversare tutto l’Oregon suonando in ognuno degli oltre 180 parchi naturali dello Stato.
“Sono sempre vissuto in Oregon, ma non l’avevo mai visto tutto”, spiega Smith. “Così, dopo aver scritto “Back O’er Oregon”, ho fatto un patto con me stesso: andare a vedere il grande cortile dell’Oregon, ed è questa l’idea da cui è nato il video”.
Il video del brano diventa insomma una sorta di escursione virtuale tra boschi, laghi e cascate, in cui accanto a Slater Smith e agli arpeggi della sua chitarra acustica fanno la loro apparizione uno ad uno tutti i componenti del gruppo (Colin Robson, Jack Martin, Corey Kintzi, Matthew Cartmill e Tanner Smith). - OndaRock


"The Weather Machine: Songs to chase the clouds away"

Oregon rain isn't enough to darken Slater Smith’s spirit. Under the name of The Weather Machine, his songs seem to always find a ray of light. After the promising debut album “Mr. Pelton’s Weather Machine”, the new record “The Weather Machine” is the confirmation of an amazing talent in storytelling.
From the college years in the Salem’s Willamette University to the Portland’s musical community, Slater Smith tell us about the transformation of The Weather Machine from solo project to a full band. And about his personal secret to chase the clouds away with a smile.

First of all, could you tell us the story of the Willamette University’s weather machine that inspired the band’s name?
“The Weather Machine” was actually a name a friend of mine came up with. In fact, it’s the shortened version of the original name for the project – “Mr. Pelton’s Weather Machine”. The weather in Salem is rotten, but somehow every year during Spring visitation day for prospective students, the weather was always nice. A joke started circulating around campus that President Pelton had sold his soul for a weather machine. It could be the worst, rainiest weather the day before Spring visits, but somehow the next day was beautiful without fail from year to year.
During the campus music festival, my friend Kate thought that “President Pelton’s Weather Machine” would make a great band name. I did too, so I asked her if I could use the name and went from there. I shortened it because it got a bit confusing when it was still a solo project. People would start thinking I was Mr. Pelton, or they’d get the name mixed up. I can’t tell you how many times people would say something like, “What was the name? Mr. Whose-its Wonder Emporium?”. After a few months I shortened it to “The Weather Machine”, but it still makes a fun story.

How did today's line-up of your band come together?
I had been interested in turning the project into a full band effort for some time. There were four key musicians involved in the actual recording process – myself playing guitar and singing, Colin Robson on bass and guitars, Matthew Cartmill on cello, and my younger brother Tanner Smith on drums. Now that the recording process is over, we’ve added a few more musicians, making it a five-piece band. Since Tanner goes to college in Boston, we recruited Corey Kintzi for live shows, and added on my college friend Jack Martin on bass. Jack is also a great songwriter in his own right and plays in a duo called Booty & The Bandit.
I met Colin about a year ago at an open mic in a little town called Pacific City on the Oregon coast. He was running the open mic as a way to keep himself busy while he was renovating an old garage to turn into a recording studio. Colin had moved to Pacific City from New York to build the studio and launch a business called Kiwanda Sound. We became fast friends, and we thought it would be a good idea to make The Weather Machine record the studio’s first album. This project would have been impossible without Colin. He’s also joined the band since, and plays lead guitar.
My brother Tanner plays drums on the record. We basically locked him in the studio for the first week after he arrived home from Boston on winter vacation. He does great work, and he’s one of the best musicians I know. Because Tanner had to return to school, we recruited Corey to play live with us. He is a recent graduate from Portland State University’s jazz program, and has been an amazing fit for the band. We met after I asked a mutual musician friend whether he knew any good drummers. It turned out that he did. It’s been a pleasure getting to know Corey since, and it’s been a ton of fun playing music together.
Matt Cartmill, our cello player, has been a good friend of mine for years. We went to high school together in a small town called Sisters, Oregon. In those days we didn’t collaborate much musically – I was just learning guitar and I don’t think he even discovered the cello yet. Since leaving Sisters, though, we have played a lot together. Matt also played cello on Mr. Pelton’s Weather Machine. He currently lives in Eugene, Oregon and is finishing up a bachelor’s degree in Spanish Language. He performs with us whenever he can make it up to Portland.
Last but not least is Jack Martin. Jack plays bass for The Weather Machine and is a great person to have in the band. He is trained primarily as a guitarist, but he’s a very smart musician and has transitioned to the bass beautifully. Jack and I both attended Willamette University, but we didn’t become friends in earnest until we both graduated and ended up in Portland. Jack reached out to me when he moved to town, and it happened to be just as Colin and I were finishing up the record. If you listen to the end of “Over All The Land” you can hear Jack play a guitar solo on the final outro. The voice at the end of the song is Jack talking as well, and you can hear him sing harmonies in “Little Surrender”.

How was the recording and the production of the new album?
The recording process was amazing! It was also exhausting. I was working in Portland two days a week, and would make the two-hour drive back and forth to and from the coast. I spent two months living that way, and have only recently made the transition back into Portland-life-as-usual.
The production was an interesting and new challenge. Unlike a lot of projects where everything is planned out before hand, we were writing all the parts as we went. I had the bones already in the form of acoustic guitar and lyrics, but these songs had never been performed with a band. It was like putting a puzzle together and trying a bunch of pieces out to see what fit. We started with Tanner, who wrote his drum parts after we laid down scratch tracks, then we brought in Matt shortly after. Tanner and Matt really helped dictate a direction for the record, and I’m very glad we brought them in in the order that we did.

What difference do you feel from your previous record?
The first project, “Mr. Pelton’s Weather Machine”, was very bare bones. I recorded it in a week with a few friends in a barn. We had very little time and no money. My goal had been to leave with something that I could hand to people, but I wasn’t concerned with making it sound perfect. There are places where the timing’s off, where there’s too much reverb, and so on. Nonetheless, when I picked the songs to put on that record, I picked songs that I thought would sound good rough and raw – I think it adds to that project’s charm.
“The Weather Machine” on the other hand sounds a little more like what I’ve been dreaming of making for years. I have an odd contradiction in musical tastes – both a deep love for folk songs, and very strong roots in indie and alternative rock. I grew up listening to bands like White Stripes, Strokes, Modest Mouse and Killers. When my family moved to Sisters I was exposed to a wide array of folk and folk-revival artists through the Sisters Folk Festival. I started listening to musicians like Ryan Adams, Anaïs Mitchell, The Tallest Man On Earth and Josh Ritter. With The Weather Machine, I like to think that I’m bringing those two worlds together. I think this new record is a step in that direction.

Why did you include new versions of "Leviathans Get Lonely" and "Back O'er Oregon"?
I decided to rerecord those two songs to breathe some new life into them. I think the stripped down acoustic versions on “Mr. Pelton’s Weather Machine” are still valuable, but I wanted to see what else we could do with the songs. In my mind, “Leviathans Get Lonely” had always been a full band song. It was meant as a lighthearted commentary on Occupy Wall Street, and I wanted to rerecord it while that movement was still fresh. In my mind it had always needed to sound fuller and more playful. We had a lot of fun rerecording it. The vocal effects were meant to mimic a megaphone, and the drum-shuffle makes the song sit somewhere between punk rock and country.
For “Back O’er Oregon” I was excited to see what we could do to subtly add texture. We borrowed a lot from Josh Ritter’s “So Runs the World Away” on this song. A lot of reverbed guitars and cello drones gave the song a wonderful new flavor. This song is an important one to me, and I wanted to do it justice.
I hope to one day revisit all the songs from “Mr. Pelton’s Weather Machine” with the new band. I love all of the songs on that record, and it would be fun to keep them and update them for future albums.

Could you tell us something more about the three-act story of Skeleton Jack?
“Skeleton Jack” is a song I wrote back in high school. I wanted to record it ever since I wrote the song, but it wasn’t until this new record that I had developed the right skills and acquired the resources to make it happen.
The first song, “Act I”, came about as I was playing with ideas surrounding divinity and fairytales. I had envisioned Jack as a sort of king of fairytales since the name shows up in so many stories and sayings – “Jack And Jill”, “Jack Be Nimble Jack Be Quick”, “Jack And The Beanstalk”, etc. I eventually got this idea into my head that it would be interesting to make this Jack character immortal. Because Jack steals from the devil, he can neither be sent to heaven or hell because he’d done good for heaven by hurting the devil (and thus couldn’t be punished by heaven for it), but he had still sinned in that he stole (so he couldn’t get into heaven). This is the context in which the three act play out.
“Act III - Alexei Mikhail” was actually the next song I wrote in the series, but I didn’t do so until years later. In this song, Jack murders a man in a bar fight (but before Jack is a skeleton), and the victim miraculously wakes up in the body of a wounded soldier. The idea is that to take revenge on Jack, the devil saves the soul of a man vengeful against Jack. The narrator in “Alexei Mikhail” then spends his days hunting Jack down.
I wrote “Act II” to explain the connection between the two plot lines. “Act II” is called “Chorus” because it serves the same purpose as a chorus in ancient Greek plays. Choruses were voices outside of the cast of characters used to give hints and explanations as to what was going on behind the scenes, or to give insight into the themes surrounding the story.
Aside from that, there are a ton of little hidden kernels throughout the three acts. For instance, the cracked crown is from “Jack And Jill,” the golden violin is a reference to the song “Devil Went Down To Georgia” and the name Alexei Mikhail carries symbolic importance. In addition, there is still some mystery surrounding the characters - the listener never learns Alexei’s real name, and there is no way to know whether the narrators in “Act I” and “Act III” are the same person. Matt also had the idea to use the cello as a sort of storytelling tool to tie the three songs together, which I think added a ton of character to the Skeleton Jack series.

In your lyrics there’s always a lot of irony. For you what's the secret to telling a story with a smile?
I don’t know if there’s any one secret for writing songs, but I do know that I can always tell I’m writing a good song if I find myself laughing. That’s not to say a song needs to be funny to be good, I just have noticed that whenever I am writing my best songs get really giddy and start chuckling.
When it comes to irony, I think that comes across because I tend to take things I find boring or cliché and turn them on their head. “Skeleton Jack” is a good example of reimagining a narrative cliché (a fairy tale), and I think “Puppet” does a good job of twisting somewhat cliché imagery. It took a long time for me to learn to write a good love song, and it wasn’t until I learned to laugh at myself and at the wonderful absurdities of romance that I could write songs like “Puppet”, “Leviathans Get Lonely”, or even “SuperFolk”. I don’t really ever sit down to write and say, “I’m going to be ironic today”, it just sort of happens as I play with ideas. I think if I tried to premeditate it, the songs wouldn’t be much good.

Do you have any favourite place or time to write a song?
It really depends on where I’m at in my life. I’ve had spaces that I’ve loved to write in that have become stale over the years, so new settings are always good and creatively freeing. As for time? Unfortunately I tend to end up writing some of the best stuff at two or three in the morning. I think there’s something about sleep deprivation that can kill the filters in the head. At night, you’re also forced to be alone with your thoughts, so there are fewer distractions.
Recently, I wrote a song on a nighttime walk. It was the first time I’d ever done this. It actually worked really well. There were no distractions, just turning over lyrics in my head to the rhythm of footsteps. I need to try that more.

What do you think about the local music scene in Oregon? Do you feel part of it?
I really love the music communities in Oregon. I grew up in Sisters, Oregon around the Sisters Folk Festival, and now since being in Portland I’ve started to meet a circle of some great musicians. What I would say about the music "scene" is that it can be easy to think you have to "find" an existing one, but in a town like Portland, there are so many great musicians and such a great community feeling that I’ve found it’s almost better to create your own circle of musician friends. This has definitely been a huge part of forming the band, and I’m meeting more and more great people every day. Portland is really a wonderful town – there’s not as much money as there is in Seattle or LA, but it also gives musicians an opportunity to build from the ground up on their own terms.

What are in your opinion the best and the worst things about being on stage?
I love being on stage. It’s why I decided to play music for a living. I can’t really think of any bad things about it. I will say it is much more fun to be on stage once you embrace making mistakes. I almost look forward to screwing up on stage, because it gives me an opportunity to connect in a different way to the audience. As long as you give people a good grin, and they know what’s up, every mistake can become a performance opportunity.


You released "The Weather Machine" with a Kickstarter campaign. From social media to crowdfunding, what do you think about the chance for the artists to promote their music in the digital era?
I think music is in a very interesting place. At no other time in history has it been so cheap to make very high quality recordings and spread them on the internet. This is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it’s easier for artists to record and promote themselves, and they can function better as entrepreneurs. On the other hand, this means that musicians are expected to do a lot of work up front before labels will look at them, and it means there is a lot more competition and white noise to compete against.
Having said all that, I think crowdfunding is a great tool if used responsibly. During an age where the is so much recorded music, and a time when musicians have to literally give their songs out for free to get ahead, crowd funding makes it possible for people to pay not only for music, but to be part of the creative experience. By giving to KickStarter or Indie Gogo, fans and friends can help create the project instead of simply helping musicians cover their costs after the fact. It gives people a reason to pay for music again.

If you could collaborate with any other artist, from today or from the past, who would you choose (and why)?
Jack White, hands down. I have a lot of musical heroes, but he was the first. While his lyrics don’t always hit home (though they often do), the attitude always does. - OndaRock


"Review: The Weather Machine"

C’era una volta un ragazzo che voleva rubare la corona al diavolo. Si chiamava Jack e, come è facile immaginare, le cose non sono andate a finire molto bene per lui. Per mettere in scena le sue gesta, Slater Smith ha raccolto un pugno di amici vecchi e nuovi. Una compagnia di cantastorie battezzata con il nome riservato sin dai tempi del college alle sue scorribande musicali: The Weather Machine.

Ma quella del re-scheletro Jack è solo una delle favole folk raccontate da Smith nel suo nuovo album: tra galassie lontane e leviatani contemporanei, l’essenza di “The Weather Machine” sta tutta nel gusto della narrazione. Con un nuovo slancio a sostenere l’arguzia di scrittura del precedente “Mr. Pelton’s Weather Machine”, lungo la strada della definitiva metamorfosi da progetto solista a band vera e propria.

Dove prima c’erano solo la chitarra e la voce di Smith (con l’accompagnamento occasionale della batteria del fratello Tanner e del violoncello di Matthew Cartmill), il marchingegno scaccianuvole del songwriter dell’Oregon recluta ora nuove forze: primo fra tutti Colin Robson, impegnato non solo al basso e alla chitarra, ma anche alla produzione dell’album. Tanto che “The Weather Machine” si annuncia come il primo disco sfornato nei neonati studi Kiwanda di Pacific City, allestiti da Robson nel suo vecchio garage in riva all’Oceano.

Sul passo spavaldo di “Galaxies!”, le angosce piccole e grandi del presente si trasfigurano in un incontro ravvicinato degno della penna immaginifica di Douglas Adams. L’incastro melodico di chitarre e archi fa pensare ai primi Hey Marseilles, con cui gli Weather Machine sembrano condividere il medesimo approccio alla materia folk: “Ho una strana contraddizione nei miei gusti musicali: amo profondamente le canzoni folk, ma ho anche solide radici nell’indie-rock e nel rock alternativo”, osserva Smith. “Con “The Weather Machine” mi piace pensare di essere riuscito a coniugare questi due mondi”.

Così, ecco “Little Surrender” vestirsi di malinconici accenti in stile Decemberists, mentre l’ossatura di ballate come “So, What Exactly Does It Say?” e “Superfolk” si arricchisce di sfumature. “È stato come mettere insieme un puzzle e provare un sacco di pezzi per vedere come si potevano combinare”, spiega sempre Smith. Il risultato è testimoniato dalle nuove versioni di un paio di episodi ripescati dal disco precedente, capaci di offrire nuovo spessore tanto all’enfasi declamatoria di “Leviathans Get Lonely” quanto ai ricami cantautorali di “Back O'er Oregon”.

Dai cori sgangherati di “With Love From Lisbon”, lo sguardo si spinge ad abbracciare tutto l’orizzonte tra gli arpeggi di “Over All The Land”, finché la polvere di una danza viene trascinata nella coda di un caotico crescendo: “Wide is the circle, wide is the soul/ Long is the skyline and the stories it holds”.

Al cuore del disco, però, c’è la discesa agli inferi di Skeleton Jack. Un po’ Orfeo e un po’ Percy Jackson (ma con lo humour gotico di Tim Burton), il personaggio ideato da Smith diventa protagonista di una vera e propria pièce in tre atti, carica della scalpitante teatralità dei Buster Blue e del gusto per l’ironia dei The Burning Hell.

“Act I - Skeleton Jack” mescola nursery rhyme e vecchie canzoni country per raccontare di come Jack riuscì a derubare il diavolo in persona, finendo condannato a rimanere scheletro per l’eternità. Poi, la scena cambia repentinamente e l’irresistibile incalzare di “Act III - Alexei Mikhail” dà voce alla vendetta di Satana contro Jack, in una sorta di surreale murder ballad a base di spie russe e reincarnazioni. Nel mezzo, a fare da parodia di una tragedia greca per la notte di Halloween, il controcanto del coro gioca con la morale della storia: “Don’t go stealing from the devil/ You know it’s not the right way/ It shouldn’t be a sin but it probably is anyway”.

A pensarci bene, forse è proprio così che il povero Jack, alla fine, ha potuto prendersi la rivincita su Lucifero. Perché, parafrasando l’ineffabile dottor Parnassus di Terry Gilliam, per ingannare il diavolo c’è un unico segreto: il racconto. L’universo stesso dipende dal fatto che, da qualche parte, ci sia qualcuno con una storia da raccontare. Nemmeno il diavolo può fare nulla per fermarlo. E di storie, Slater Smith e i suoi Weather Machine ne hanno un canzoniere pieno.

(12/04/2013) - OndaRock


"'Back O'er Oregon' music video travels to all 185 Oregon State Parks"

Slater Smith, of the Portland band The Weather Machine, decided to take a musical voyage through Oregon for the band's song, "Back O'er Oregon." At first, Smith had the ambitious plan to try and visit every city in Oregon to film for the video. But after being put in touch with the Governor's Office of Film and Television, a new plan emerged: Smith would go to all 185 of Oregon State Parks.

Smith, born and raised in Oregon, had been debating whether he should move away. He decided not to, and the song and the video are Smith's tribute to his home state.

The result, a collaboration between Smith and the band, the Oregon film office and Oregon Parks and Recreation, takes Smith to all corners of the state. Smith spents months traveling around Oregon, and along the way, he uploaded photos, videos and blog posts on Tumblr.

The video was featured this week on actor Rainn Wilson's Website, SoulPancake, and now the official Website for the video and the project is up. Watch the video, learn more about Smith's travels, from the Oregon Coast to Eastern Oregon, and everywhere in between.

The song is sweet and low-key, and the visuals will remind you how lucky we are to live in a state that's so varied and beautiful. - The Oregonian


"Video Vriday! Typhoon, Blouse, Drunken Prayer & More"

This Summer, the Weather Machine's Slater Smith visited all 185 state parks in Oregon—including Government Island State Park, which you can only get to by boat. Smith brought a GoPro camera with him, and Mimi Bergen edited down footage from all these parks into this charming video for "Back O'er Oregon." Here's the list of all the parks Smith hit on a trip that was made possible with funding from Oregon State Parks and Oregon Film. - Portland Mercury


"Artist Sings A Tune At Each Oregon Park"

Slater Smith was born in Portland; he grew up in Sisters; he graduated from Willamette University in Salem; he cut a record with his band on the coast. Like many lifelong Oregonians, he thought he knew his state.

Then he got the idea to visit every state park and sing his musical tribute “Back O’er Oregon.” He was a little daunted to find that there are 190 state parks, heritage areas, scenic corridors and recreation areas — from Fort Stevens on the north coast to French Glen in southeastern Oregon — but he was up for a challenge.

“It was a long summer,” said Smith, 23, this week, in his understated way. “A lot happened.”

He took off in late June in his blue Honda Element with a new Oregon-made Breedlove guitar.

“Imagine you live in a Harry Potter book and you get a brand new wizard wand made of rosewood, unicorn hair, and sparrow feathers (or something) — that’s what playing this guitar feels like,” he wrote to kick off his blog (overoregon.tumblr.com/).

He had a modest budget for the trip thanks to the governor’s film office and the state Parks and Recreation Department. Since he was volunteering his time, the parks department let him camp for free.

Executives at both agencies were intrigued by the project, and they figured that Smith could take photos for far less than it would cost to send an employee. The parks department has a huge appetite for photos that tout the glories of Oregon. Ditto the film office, which pitches the fact that directors can shoot desert, mountains and coast settings in a single day.

“We’re just interested in promoting new thinking and digital storytelling,” said Vince Porter, executive director of the Governor’s Office of Film and Television.

Smith’s bandmates from The Weather Machine joined him occasionally to help with filming and moral support. But most of the time it was just Smith, driving through some of Oregon’s most out-of-the-way places.

He didn’t have an iPhone or GPS. The state’s online map and its print map of state parks disagreed at times as to just where a park was, adding further excitement to the journey.

At each park, he set up a Go-Pro camera on a tripod. Seven paces away, he opened a folding chair borrowed from his parents’ garage. He tucked an iPod Touch between his chest and the guitar so he could listen to a recording of himself playing the song. He planned to edit together bits of video from all across the state, and he needed to sing the song each time exactly the same way, at the same speed, to make it work.

“So far, I’ve been as far North as Ecola State Park, and I’ve met a ton of people/creatures along the way – including both a pony and a dancing toddler who are DEFINITELY going to be in the music video,” he blogged after the July 4 weekend. “In Oceanside, I was expecting a peaceful, nostalgic visit to my childhood beach. Instead, I have way too much footage of myself trying to keep my camera from blowing over (spoiler alert: it fell over).”

As the days went on, he discovered how big the 190 number really was. To stay on schedule, he visited up to 17 parks a day.

Once, checking out his footage in Coos Bay, he realized that his film of a park near Crater Lake hadn’t turned out. He drove about 200 miles back to Crater Lake to re-do it.

“I’m not doing the trip because it was easy, I’m doing it to do it well,” he told himself.

He discovered that one state park is so close to the state’s south-central border that you have to leave Oregon to get there.

“My plan was to drive down to Goose Lake, spend the night, then take Hwy 140 east and south into Nevada around the Steens, and back into Oregon,” he blogged on Aug. 5. “As I drove and drove, I couldn’t find Goose Lake. Right when I was ready to turn around, I saw a sign that read ‘Welcome to California!’ – and right next to it was a sign for the last Oregon State park before Nevada. It was 9:30 and I was out of sunlight, but I made it.”

Heading east from there, he encountered the remoteness of south-central Oregon.

“I had a full tank of gas when I left, but I was running out of gas when I hit French Glen,” he said. He stopped at farms to ask directions to the next gas station; at each one, he said, he was assured that “it wouldn’t be far.”

About this time his blog petered out; finding good wifi was a problem in rural Eastern Oregon, Smith said. He still plans to fill in the gaps.

Figuring that it would be easy to visit a park in Portland, where he now lives, he left one for last: Government Island.

“I went to find it and realized it was the only park in the system that is accessible only by boat,” he said.

Eventually he realized that he could call on the parks department for help. He visited the island with a crew by motorboat on Oct. 8 — completing his odyssey that day.

Now Smith is compiling his photos and editing his video clips into one presentation for the film and parks offices.

He remembers the trip fondly, even if it’s hard to recall just which parks stood out.

“I think of it more in regions,” he said by phone from Portland. “The (Columbia River) Gorge was amazing; I had never spent a lot of time in the Gorge. Lake Billy Chinook was in my backyard when I was living in Sisters and I never had been there.”

By year’s end, Smith’s song and his photos may help other vacationers plan their journeys. They may bring commercials, film and TV crews to take advantage of the state’s astounding scenery.

As for Smith, he still brakes reflexively when he spots green-and-blue state parks signs on the road.

“I have this response, that I have to stop, or anxiety that I missed them,” he reflected. “It’s cool. I see things I didn’t see before.”

bcurtin@Statesman Journal.com, (503) 399-6699 or twitter.com/ BarbaraCurtin - Statesman Journal


"Band Interviews: The Weather Machine"

Barely a year in, The Weather Machine swarms Portland with impressive tunes and their first self-titled album.

Political Science grad, Slater Smith, has a passion for music which was ignited in high school when he was part of the Americana Project, a program funded by the Sisters Folk Festival. Putting all distractions aside, he’s going all in on his music career. Inspired by Folk and Americana, Slater teamed up with Colin Robson, Corey Kintzi, Matthew Cartmill, and Jack Martin to establish the current makeup of The Weather Machine.
Colin, in fact, owns a recording studio in Pacific City, OR. Beach house turned studio, Kiwanda Sound, is the birthplace of The Weather Machine’s debut album. After the group spends the summer performing, they’ll head back to the studio for more recording –the writing never stops for Slater.

With feel-good folk tunes, The Weather Machine creates music for easy listening, with catchy lyrics. They are a perfect kickoff to summer. Gather friends for a barbecue, crack some beers, and press play on when you get to their tracks on your playlist.

Make it to a show! Stay updated on when they perform next by following The Weather Machine online. - PDX Pick


"Buzzfeed: 9 Web Videos You Can’t Miss This Week"

185 State Parks in One Incredibly Beautiful Music Video
Portland band The Weather Machine’s debut music video was shot in all 185 of Oregon’s state parks. The result is just as lovely as “Back O’er Oregon,” the song that accompanies it. - Buzzfeed


"Video Roundup: Weather Machine! Sassparilla! Radiation City! Mndsgn!"

How did Slater Smith of Portland folk group the Weather Machine spend 2013? Visiting every friggin' state park in Oregon. As you might guess, that's a lot of damn parks. And just in case you don't believe him, he's made a video to prove he actually did it. This clip is nothing more than Smith strumming an acoustic guitar in all 192 parks this state has to offer, but witnessing the sheer breadth of natural beauty in this place we call home makes it worth the next five and a half minutes of your life. - Willamette Week


"Quest To Visit All Of Oregon's State Parks"

Over the summer, Slater Smith dared himself to visit every state park in Oregon and create a song and video as he traveled. Smith is the front man for the Portland band, The Weather Machine. At some points, the band joined him, but much of the time he traveled with only his guitar.

The result is Back O’er Oregon. It’s a song, a travelogue, and, soon, it will be a video that captures the beauty of Oregon’s great outdoors. - Think Out Loud - OPB Radio


"The Weather Machine"

"C’era una volta un ragazzo che voleva rubare la corona al diavolo. Si chiamava Jack e, come è facile immaginare, le cose non sono andate a finire molto bene per lui. Per mettere in scena le sue gesta, Slater Smith ha raccolto un pugno di amici vecchi e nuovi. Una compagnia di cantastorie battezzata con il nome riservato sin dai tempi del college alle sue scorribande musicali: The Weather Machine.
Ma quella del re-scheletro Jack è solo una delle favole folk raccontate da Smith nel suo nuovo album: tra galassie lontane e leviatani contemporanei, l’essenza di “The Weather Machine” sta tutta nel gusto della narrazione. Con un nuovo slancio a sostenere l’arguzia di scrittura del precedente “Mr. Pelton’s Weather Machine”, lungo la strada della definitiva metamorfosi da progetto solista a band vera e propria.

Dove prima c’erano solo la chitarra e la voce di Smith (con l’accompagnamento occasionale della batteria del fratello Tanner e del violoncello di Matthew Cartmill), il marchingegno scaccianuvole del songwriter dell’Oregon recluta ora nuove forze: primo fra tutti Colin Robson, impegnato non solo al basso e alla chitarra, ma anche alla produzione dell’album. Tanto che “The Weather Machine” si annuncia come il primo disco sfornato nei neonati studi Kiwanda di Pacific City, allestiti da Robson nel suo vecchio garage in riva all’Oceano.
Sul passo spavaldo di “Galaxies!”, le angosce piccole e grandi del presente si trasfigurano in un incontro ravvicinato degno della penna immaginifica di Douglas Adams. L’incastro melodico di chitarre e archi fa pensare ai primi Hey Marseilles, con cui gli Weather Machine sembrano condividere il medesimo approccio alla materia folk: “Ho una strana contraddizione nei miei gusti musicali: amo profondamente le canzoni folk, ma ho anche solide radici nell’indie-rock e nel rock alternativo”, osserva Smith. “Con “The Weather Machine” mi piace pensare di essere riuscito a coniugare questi due mondi”.

Così, ecco “Little Surrender” vestirsi di malinconici accenti in stile Decemberists, mentre l’ossatura di ballate come “So, What Exactly Does It Say?” e “Superfolk” si arricchisce di sfumature. “È stato come mettere insieme un puzzle e provare un sacco di pezzi per vedere come si potevano combinare”, spiega sempre Smith. Il risultato è testimoniato dalle nuove versioni di un paio di episodi ripescati dal disco precedente, capaci di offrire nuovo spessore tanto all’enfasi declamatoria di “Leviathans Get Lonely” quanto ai ricami cantautorali di “Back O'er Oregon”.
Dai cori sgangherati di “With Love From Lisbon”, lo sguardo si spinge ad abbracciare tutto l’orizzonte tra gli arpeggi di “Over All The Land”, finché la polvere di una danza viene trascinata nella coda di un caotico crescendo: “Wide is the circle, wide is the soul/ Long is the skyline and the stories it holds”.

Al cuore del disco, però, c’è la discesa agli inferi di Skeleton Jack. Un po’ Orfeo e un po’ Percy Jackson (ma con lo humour gotico di Tim Burton), il personaggio ideato da Smith diventa protagonista di una vera e propria pièce in tre atti, carica della scalpitante teatralità dei Buster Blue e del gusto per l’ironia dei The Burning Hell.
“Act I - Skeleton Jack” mescola nursery rhyme e vecchie canzoni country per raccontare di come Jack riuscì a derubare il diavolo in persona, finendo condannato a rimanere scheletro per l’eternità. Poi, la scena cambia repentinamente e l’irresistibile incalzare di “Act III - Alexei Mikhail” dà voce alla vendetta di Satana contro Jack, in una sorta di surreale murder ballad a base di spie russe e reincarnazioni. Nel mezzo, a fare da parodia di una tragedia greca per la notte di Halloween, il controcanto del coro gioca con la morale della storia: “Don’t go stealing from the devil/ You know it’s not the right way/ It shouldn’t be a sin but it probably is anyway”.
A pensarci bene, forse è proprio così che il povero Jack, alla fine, ha potuto prendersi la rivincita su Lucifero. Perché, parafrasando l’ineffabile dottor Parnassus di Terry Gilliam, per ingannare il diavolo c’è un unico segreto: il racconto. L’universo stesso dipende dal fatto che, da qualche parte, ci sia qualcuno con una storia da raccontare. Nemmeno il diavolo può fare nulla per fermarlo. E di storie, Slater Smith e i suoi Weather Machine ne hanno un canzoniere pieno." - OndaRock ( album review in Italian)


"Review of The Weather Machine’s self-titled debut album"

"They offer a rich, spirited brand of folk-rock and share similarities with Josh Ritter, The Avett Brothers, and The Lumineers. This album navigates the strong winds and rough seas of love and relationships with a delicate and poetic grace that is unmatched." - PDX Pick


"The Weather Machine - Self Titled Album"

"New Portland band, The Weather Machine, has released a fantastic first self-titled album. Sisters native Slater Smith was instrumental in the group’s formation, and the result is a melodic album (evocative of Josh Ritter, The Tallest Man on Earth and Gregory Alan Isakov) anchored by Slater’s seductive vocals." - Cascade A&E


"The Weather Machine: Songs to Chase the Clouds Away"

"Oregon rain isn't enough to darken Slater Smith’s spirit. Under the name of The Weather Machine, his songs seem to always find a ray of light. After the promising debut album “Mr. Pelton’s Weather Machine”, the new record “The Weather Machine” is the confirmation of an amazing talent in storytelling.

From the college years in the Salem’s Willamette University to the Portland’s musical community, Slater Smith tell us about the transformation of The Weather Machine from solo project to a full band. And about his personal secret to chase the clouds away with a smile." - OndaRock


"End Hits: Music Monday!"

"...the perceptive folk-pop on their self-titled album is catchy, melancholy, slightly tarnished sunshine that begs repeat listens... "Little Surrender" [is] an easygoing strummer in the vein of Ray Davies or Paul McCartney." - The Portland Mercury


Discography

Still working on that hot first release.

Photos

Bio

On April Fools Day 2013, Portland-based project The Weather Machine released their first full-length album after a blustery winter of recording on the Oregon Coast. With its strong ties to the region, the band roots itself firmly in a Pacific Northwest folk aesthetic, but holds on tight to a hard-hitting love for alt-rock. The result is wonderfully hard to categorize The Weather Machine has been compared to everything from The Kinks, to Josh Ritter and Hey Marseilles.

After a short six months of gigging, The Weather Machine quickly gained a reputation as one of Portlands notable up-and-comers. In the summer of 2013 the band partnered with Oregon Film and Oregon State Parks to tour the entire state of Oregon, collecting footage for their debut Back Oer Oregon music video. They released the song along with their B-side Slow Dance Slow through Portland label Tender Loving Empire on December 3rd to coincide with the videos release.

The Weather Machine began in earnest when singer/songwriter Slater Smith and guitarist Colin Robson met at an open-mic in Pacific City in March of 2012. The two decided to team up to record Smiths songs at Robsons then brand new studio, Kiwanda Sound Recordings. The two brought in bassist Jack Martin, cellist Matthew Cartimill, and drummer Tanner Smith (Slaters brother) to bring body to the record. Since the albums release, Corey Kintzi joined the roster as a second drummer, and the band began to develop an even more collaborative approach. The Weather Machine is currently writing their second album, and plans to release the sophomore full-length in the near future.

Band Members